UAB football will try to turn the page from an agonizing loss at Charlotte to face conference rival Southern Miss on the road.
It’s time to put last Saturday’s missery behind us and focus on our next challenge.
Southern Miss is 5-2 overall and 3-1 in the conference, so this is obviously a huge game for the Blazers. A win for the Green and Gold puts them back in second place in the West and gives them hope at making the Conference USA Championship game.
The Golden Eagles had an exciting comeback win over La Tech this past Saturday in double overtime. They’ve now won three conference games in a row after losing to North Texas.
They are certainly one of the hottest teams in the conference, and this will be a huge challenge for UAB, but one I think they can overcome.
Let’s look at the matchups.
Southern Miss Offense vs. UAB Defense
Southern Miss is fifth in the conference averaging 29.6 points per game, and fourth in total yards per game at 451.7.
They have one of the best running backs in the conference in Ito Smith. He has 781 net yards rushing and 7 touchdowns, while averaging 5.9 yards a carry and 111.6 yards per game.
But they’ve also been very effective throwing the football. They’re third in the conference averaging 263.3 passing yards a game.
Keon Howard is 75-of-123 (61 percent) passing for 892 yards and 7 touchdowns. He threw for over 300 yards against La Tech this past weekend.
Korey Robertson is their top wideout. He’s caught 37 passes for 515 yards and 7 touchdowns.
Those three will be a handful for our defense to cover.
The Southern Miss offensive line has only allowed 10 sacks on the season.
The UAB defense is giving up close to 30 points per game, but they haven’t given up a ton of yards. In fact, they are second in the conference only giving up 191.7 passing yards per game.
And for the most part this year they’ve been really good at stopping running backs, it’s been scrambling quarterbacks that have given us the most problems.
Southern Miss’ quarterback, Howard, has rushed for 122 net yards on 39 attempts. While he’s certainly not the fastest quarterback we’ve faced, he can pick up some yards on the ground when he has to.
This is a dynamic offense that can get it done on the ground and in the air. Our defense will need to have it’s best game to win this one.
UAB Offense vs. Southern Miss Defense
After an embarrassing performance against Charlotte on offense, I expect our coaching staff to go back to the bread-and-butter.
I think we will see a lot of Spencer Brown this Saturday, and I certainly expect him to get more than 16 carries. However, news came out after the game that he was dealing with a shoulder injury. Hopefully he’ll be 100 percent this weekend, because the offense certainly needs him.
The one problem with that is Southern Miss is second in the conference giving up just 116 rushing yards a game.
They’re also fifth in the conference in stopping the pass, so we might as well try to beat them with our strength.
While A.J. Erdely has been good in the short passing game completing nearly 60 percent of his passes, he’ll need to do a better job of hitting some downfield passes against Southern Miss.
This will certainly be another tall task for the offense, but they can’t play much worse than they did against Charlotte.
Game Preview and Prediction
I’ll be honest, I’m having a hard time finding positives for this game. If UAB plays like it did against Charlotte we’re going to get blown out of the stadium.
But I believe in Coach Clark and he will have the team refocused for this one. He won’t let them have another letdown like they did against Charlotte. Maybe they had too many people tell them how good they are, and now that they’ve been humbled we’ll see how they respond.
Now, regardless of what would have happened against Charlotte, UAB would still be a big underdog on the road in this game.
In order for UAB to win this game they’ll have to play their best game defensively. I still think their best chance of winning is to shut down the running game and hope our talented secondary can make some big plays.
But none of that will mean anything if our offense can put any drives together. The play-calling wasn’t necessarily horrible on Saturday, the players just didn’t make plays. We can’t keep having drives get stalled, somebody has to step up and make a couple of big plays to keep our offense on the field, and to help put up some points.
I really hope our offense comes out with a sense of urgency on Saturday. It will be up to them to win this game.
Prediction: UAB – 31 Southern Miss – 28